There are more than one million childcare workers in the U.S. alone, with countless nannies and babysitters working off the books. However, now might not be the best time to hire one — legal or non. As the pandemic rages on and schedules fluctuate, you may want to reconsider your childcare options. So, just how reasonable is it to have a nanny in 2021?
Do You Have Time?
Most parents hire a nanny because they don’t have time to care for their children. However, many don’t realize how much time it will take to find and manage a nanny, especially in the beginning.
For instance, you’ll have to advertise your need for a nanny in the paper or online. Then, once you begin to receive inquiries and applications, you must conduct screenings. Often, this process involves numerous interviews, paperwork and back and forth correspondence. Even after you hire your top pick, you’ll still have work to do, including filing taxes, purchasing insurance, filing any claims and setting up a pension at your nanny’s request.
You might also want to have regular meetings with your nanny or au pair to review their progress and talk about the children. In this case, you’ll have to adjust your schedule even more. Ultimately, if you don’t have time for taxes or a few extra meetings, hiring a nanny may not be the most reasonable option.
Can You Afford It?
Of course, you must also determine if hiring a nanny is a reasonable financial decision. Does adding another expense to your budget make sense and, if so, how much can you afford to spend?
Nearly one in three families spend at least 20% of their income on child care, which can equate to more than $360 a week for some. Another one-third of parents said they would go into debt to pay for childcare. However, taking out loans and taking on debt isn’t always the best option.
Take a close look at your monthly budget and try to limit unnecessary spending. If you’re desperate to find a nanny, you’ll likely be willing to make a few sacrifices to afford one. If you’d rather not cut your shopping budget, you may have to reconsider your priorities or find a less expensive childcare provider.
Do You Have Room?
You may have room in your budget, but do you have room in your home? Some parents prefer a live-in nanny who will require a bedroom and possibly a separate bathroom. In this case, you must be willing to accommodate them.
Moreover, you should mentally and physically prepare to share your home with another adult. Consider yours and their privacy. Can you install locks on bedroom and bathroom doors? Are you comfortable with sharing a bathroom? Is your nanny allergic to animals? Encourage open and honest dialogue about these and other similar considerations. You’ll be glad to have worked out the details before they move in and inadvertently invade your personal space.
Is It Safe?
You should also create an atmosphere of clear and open communication regarding COVID-19. Legally, you can’t restrict your nanny from seeing other people during their off-hours. However, you can kindly ask them to limit their travel to essential commuting and keep track of who they come in contact with. Of course, you should also be willing to do the same for them so you all can stay safe and healthy during the pandemic and your nanny can do her job.
Unfortunately, coronavirus isn’t the only safety concern in 2021. As a parent, you’ll also have to make sure all potential nannies are reliable and trustworthy. Otherwise, you could put you and your kids in danger by inviting a stranger into your home.
Consider finding a candidate through a nanny agency or asking your family and friends for referrals. Thoroughly interview all applicants and run a background check, calling each reference on their resume. Check their legal status, education level and credit if they’ll be using your card. Arrange a trial day to get a better idea of how they’ll interact with your kids. If they get along and you deem the situation safe enough, hiring them wouldn’t be unreasonable.
Are You Confident Enough?
Having a nanny in your house — male or female — may bring out the worst in you. Sure, you may feel more independent without lugging your children everywhere, but you might begin to notice some deep-seated insecurities. Will your husband have wandering eyes for the beautiful nanny in the house? Will your wife belittle you for not taking care of the kids as well as your nanny?
Preemptively wagging the finger at an attractive nanny or accusing your spouse of bad behavior shines a spotlight on your self-doubt and jealousy and puts a huge strain on your marriage. Therefore, you must be content and confident enough in yourself, your spouse and your commitment to one another before bringing another person into the mix. If your spouse does end up falling for the nanny, odds are there were bigger problems you should have dealt with long ago.
If you decide that hiring a nanny is the right move for your family, congratulations! Thanks to the pandemic, you’ll have no trouble finding one. However, if your budget, lifestyle, house and relationship aren’t conducive to having a nanny around, there are a few more reasonable alternatives. For example, many daycare facilities are more affordable than a nanny and your friends and family may be willing to watch your kids for free.
Thoroughly research your options and consider every avenue before finally deciding. Your whole family will be better off for it.